by Mark Chillingworth

2014 CIO 100, in the change footsteps of easyJet and UCLH

Mar 27, 20144 mins
CareersFinancial Services IndustryGovernment

It’s is exactly a week until we announce the 2014 CIO 100. The focus remains on the transformations that CIOs have achieved in their organisation.

In the last two years the CIO 100 top tier has been an example of business technology leaders who have been instrumental at reshaping the CIO role and their organisation.

Our first leader was Trevor Didcock at airline easyJet. In the midst of a very tough world economy easyJet and Didcock demonstrate the innovation the UK has to turn markets on their heads. Today easyJet is the UK’s largest airline by passenger numbers and technology has always been central to its product and growth. Not only that, but today the CIO 100 features a brace of former easyJet business technology leaders that are now leading organisations like DX, Dominos and Virgin Active.

James Thomas at UCLH, who topped the 2013 list, shows how with a clear strategy and bold use of outsourcing and vendor management an NHS organisation can operate a surplus and become a pioneer health provider that is world class in research and treatment. In the same year Ian Cohen showed that social tools make a real business difference as JLT improved its operations.

And this is the very point of the CIO 100 to me and the team, is that we want to list, demonstrate, celebrate and salute those that don’t accept size or status quo, but who ask difficult questions and change things. That previous leaders easyJet has become the UK’s leading airline and UCLH is a partner in the Macmillan Cancer Centre when the government savages the NHS and public sector with cuts is an example of change at work and working in dificult times.

For the 2014 CIO 100 two new judges joined the panel, both have very recent experience of the CIO hot seat and provided some valuable insight.

In fact, the reason the CIO 100 is what it is today is all because of one of this year’s judges – Adam Gerrard. As the judging panel limped away from a tough day of analysis recently, it occurred to me, this whole process in Adam Gerrard’s fault.

Way back in my early tenure as an Editor at CIO UK the CIO 100 was compiled by a separate part of our parent company. They must live in the bowels of the building, because to this day I’ve never met them. Having published the CIO 100 a few years back I got into a discussion with Gerrard about the metrics of the 100. As ever with any CIO conversation, Gerrard wanted to know how it worked, could it be improved, what is the core process? I’ll admit, I fell flat on my face and probably offered the woefully weak excuse of “I’m just following orders”.

The upshot was, I realised we had to transform the CIO 100 because our user group, the CIO community, are not easily satisfied. The old model focused very heavily on the size of the organisation and the size of the technology estate and budget the CIO was responsible for. Yet just one click away from the CIO 100 our title was jammed to the gills of stories of major problems with technology projects at large Whitehall departments, for example. I toyed with the idea of creating a CIO 100 based n the FTSE100, but then that rejected the public sector entirely as well as key overseas organisations either led by British CIOs or operating from our island.

Chewing the idea over with the CIO UK columnists, themselves veterans of the CIO or business leadership role, it became clear, we were all passionate about how technology can change an organisation for the benefit of its workforce and its customers. We all discovered we shared an appreciation for the CIOs that have that same passion for change.

This  year’s 100 was very hard to judge, but the top 10 is again a testament to the role of the CIO. So back to Adam Gerrard, having started the entire process/blame game, it is a pleasure to have Adam on the judging panel this year and his insights were very helpful.

Alongside Gerrard, Ian Cox, formerly business technology leader at May Gurney and Sony, to name just two, now a CIO columnist and author also really dived deep into the submissions and offered all the panellist some great insights. I’d like to thank all the judges and our new members in advance.